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Korea meets Japan in Women’s Asia Cup final
08 Sep 2007 17:39

Korea will play Japan in Sunday’s final of the Women’s Asia Cup at Kings Park. The Koreans scored a comprehensive 5-2 win over India in the semifinal. Japan booked the other final slot with pulsating 2-1 win over China.

By Mike Field, Media Officer Asia Cup

India managed to contain the speedy Korean forwards early in the match by slowing the game down and then using captain Mamta Kharab and Jasjeet Kaur to take the ball up into an attacking position in the Korean circle.

Korea however gradually began to take control after the Indians allowed them more freedom in the midfield, forcing two penalty corners in the 11th and 16th minutes that were both saved by India.

But the relentless Korean pressure was taking its toll on India and in the 22nd minute their forwards stormed into India's circle to draw goal keeper Marita Tirkey and allow Kim Da Rae to score the game's first goal.

Just three minutes later  Korea went 2-0 up after an Indian defensive mix up in the goal area allowed Kim Jong Eun to score the Korean's second goal.

And after that goal, it became obvious that India had a mountain the climb to stay in the match with the pace and power of Koreans telling as the teams went into the interval with a 2-0 lead.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Korea struck again when Cheon Seul Ki scored a well taken field goal to make it 3-0 that saw India down but not quite out.

With India on the attack and forcing a penalty corner in the 49th minute, captain Mamta Kharab converted to give India their first goal of the match. Korea however struck back almost immediately to go 4-1 ahead with a field goal scored by Seo Hye Jin to put the issue beyond doubt.

Korea went 5-1 up in the match with just 11 minutes left on the clock when Kim Da Rae converted a penalty corner.

But the script was not quite finalised as India's captain Mata Kharab scored a somewhat controversial second goal in the 63rd minute after deflecting a bouncing cross from outside the circle into the Korean net to make the final score 5-2 to the East Asian side.          

Japan pulled off the upset of the  Asia Cup to date with a sensational 2-1 win over tournament favourites China at Kings Park Hockey Ground and book themselves a berth in Sunday’s final.

With all three goals coming in the first half, Japan surprisingly made the early running with an attack on the China goal mounted through hardworking forward Sachimi Iwao whose shot on goal was saved by China's goalkeeper Zhang Yi Meng.

But with China beginning find more cohesion in their play, the team's forwards forced a penalty corner that was converted Chen Zhao Xia in the 20th minute.

But from then on the game swung Japan's way as the team tightened up their defence and began relying on breaking out to attack. And that paid dividends just 2 minutes later when Iwao again broke down the left and found Tomomo Komori relatively unmarked in the China circle to beat goalkeeper Zhang and level the score at one goal each.

Japan kept up the pressure and in the 24th minute forced another penalty corner that Toshie Tsukui converted to give the underdogs a 2-1 lead at the interval.

Early in the second half China's Tang Chun Ling came very close to levelling the score with a full blooded drive that was superbly saved by the Japanese keeper Ikuko Okamara. 

But that was the last real threat to Japan's lead and with mistakes beginning to creep into China's play, the Japanese players defended superbly in the second half to survive two late China penalty corners shortly before the final whistle and hang on to win by 2 goals to China's one.

Much of Japan's victory can go to their Korean born coach Yoo Sueng Jin who took charge of the national women's team in June last year after living in Japan for 12 years.

At 37 years, Yoo is the youngest national coach in Asia and is no stranger to international hockey himself having represented Korea at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games, 1990 Beijing Asian Games and Hiroshima Games with Korea taking gold in both Seoul and Hiroshima.

'We concentrated on defence in the match and blocked Chin'a midfield to break up their attacks ' he said. 'Then we relied on counter attack to score which really worked for us' said a very happy coach Yoo after the game.   

Results Women’s Asia Cup Saturday 8 September 2007

Japan – China 2-1
Korea – India 5-2

Classification matches:
Hong Kong – Thailand 0-1
Malaysia –  Chinese Taipei 3-0

Please click here for direct access to the special Women's Asia Cup website.

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